During the busy holiday season, potential clients often ask us: “I was out shopping when I slipped and fell. I was injured. Do I need a lawyer to help me?” The simple answer is almost always Yes. A lawyer can help you recover compensation for injuries you sustained in a fall on someone else’s property, including at a shopping center, making it well worth your while to hire a lawyer following a slip and fall accident.
What Are the Benefits of Working With a Lawyer After a Slip and Fall?
Slips and falls can result in significant injuries—they result in three-million emergency room visits every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Falls kill and injure older adults more than anything else—nationally, at a rate of one elderly adult per second, killing 28,000 and costing Medicaid $31 billion annually.
Being injured in a slip and fall in a store, regardless of the season, is no laughing matter. Contacting an attorney may, at first, seem like an overreaction, especially if the store seems eager to work with you to get you the help you need. Working with a lawyer, however, can protect your rights in some significant ways.
- A lawyer can determine whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit. In many cases, a lawyer will be able to tell you during the initial consultation—which many lawyers offer for free—whether or not you have the grounds for a lawsuit. A simple consultation can go a long way toward saving you time and energy throughout the process.
- A lawyer will give you a better idea of what to expect from a court verdict or settlement. How much money can you really expect from your slip and fall injury? When the insurance company presents you with a settlement offer, is it reasonable, or should you continue to fight for more money? Working with a lawyer is the best way to establish approximately how much you should be due.
- A lawyer will help communicate with the property owner’s insurance company. Communicating with an insurance company is often more difficult than you expect. You may feel as though you’re struggling to navigate verbal traps or as though you aren’t receiving the support you deserve from the insurance company. In many cases, a lawyer may take over communicating with the insurance company for you, giving you the freedom to focus on your recovery.
- A lawyer will give you advice about how to proceed after your slip and fall injury. How much can you post on social media about the recovery process? Are there activities that you should avoid? Do you have to make a statement about the accident for the insurance company—and if you do, what should you say? Working with a lawyer is the most effective way to get the answers to those questions from an individual who has your best interests in mind.
- A lawyer may be able to increase the amount of compensation you receive. In many cases, working with a slip and fall attorney can help increase the size of the settlement you’re offered, or verdict you win, for your injuries. Knowing that you have an attorney will show the insurance company or retail establishment that you’re serious, which may make it easier for you to get the funds you deserve.
How Do I Know I Have a Lawsuit After My Slip and Fall?
You’ve slipped and fallen in a store--does that immediately mean that you have a legal right to receive compensation for your injuries? In order to successfully pursue legal action against a retail establishment for injuries sustained in a fall on their property, you must prove several things.
Item #1: The store had a duty of care to you. In any retail establishment, the store is responsible for ensuring the safety of its customers. In order to prevent slips and falls, for example, the store needs to keep aisles clear and ensure that walkways stay cleared of potential fall hazards. If the floor gets wet—which may be difficult to avoid during the busy holiday season, whether due to poor weather outside or due to spills within the store—employees must take steps to clean up the floor as soon as possible and post warnings for customers to help them avoid those slippery areas.
Item #2: The store somehow violated its duty of care. In the case of slip and fall accidents, violation of the duty of care may, for example, include failing to clean up a spill or neglecting those “wet floor” signs that are so often seen during wet and rainy times of the year. In order to prove that the store violated its duty of care, you may need to provide proof that it was the store’s negligence, rather than your own fault or that of another customer, that led to your accident.
Item #3: You were injured due to that violation of care. If you slip and fall, but land with no injuries, you do not have grounds for a lawsuit. Sometimes, slip and fall accidents cause little more than a moment’s embarrassment as you scramble back to your feet. Other times, however, slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries, including everything from scrapes and lacerations to spinal cord trauma or traumatic brain injury. In some cases, the disabilities caused by a simple slip and fall accident can be permanent.
Item #4: You can describe specific damages as a result of your slip and fall accident. A physical injury is a clear and obvious damage from your accident. Physical injury also frequently leads to financial damages: medical bills, which may increase quickly following a slip and fall accident; lost time at work; even lost long-term earning potential as you realize that you are no longer able to work in your former capacity. In some cases, damages may also include pain and suffering or emotional damage as a result of your injuries.
Working with a lawyer is often the most effective way to determine whether or not the retail establishment is responsible for your injuries. A lawyer can also help you shape a lawsuit and better understand what damages you are due as a result of your injuries.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible After Your Slip and Fall
If you were in a slip and fall accident, don’t wait to contact a lawyer. The sooner you start working with a lawyer, the better your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact Diamond Injury Law at (718) 588-2000 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we may be able to help.